Disney Invests in Two Language AI Startups Through Annual Accelerator Program

Disney Invests in Two Language AI Startups Through Annual Accelerator Program

Creativity and entertainment are a few of the major concepts associated with the Disney brand. Through the Disney Accelerator Program, the company aims to add “innovation” — specifically with regard to cutting-edge technology — to its reputation.

Now in its 10th year, the Disney Accelerator Program forms a cohort of “venture-backed, growth-stage startups” with a focus on technology in entertainment. Top Disney executives provide guidance and mentorship, and Disney typically invests in participating companies, though the amount is not disclosed. 

The 2024 cohort of five companies includes AudioShake and ElevenLabs, two language AI startups. Participating companies retain IP developed during the program, unless otherwise agreed.

AudioShake uses AI to parse audio tracks for mixing or dubbing; use cases include localization, as AudioShake highlighted in a March 2024 tweet about the company working with musician Sia “to create lyric videos for her single ‘Gimme Love’ for fans in Spanish and French-speaking countries.”

Multilingual AI voice startup ElevenLabs, which closed a USD 80m Series B in January 2024, recently opened its own dubbing studio. The company also announced a partnership in which Perplexity’s Discover Daily podcast will make use of ElevenLabs’ AI-generated voices.

“We are thrilled to be a part of the 2024 Disney Accelerator,” ElevenLabs tweeted on February 22, 2024. “Disney is one of the world’s most globally recognizable brands and has held a special place in our hearts since childhood.”

The 2024 Disney Accelerator program kicked off in January 2024. The hybrid schedule requires in-person attendance at Disney headquarters in Glendale, CA for “key milestone weeks,” including introductory meetings and executive meetings for business development. A Demo Day in late May 2024 at The Walt Disney Studios Lot in Burbank, CA will conclude the program. 

The other participating startups in the 2024 cohort are Nero, which builds custom, electric vehicles to deliver goods autonomously; StatusPro, a company focused on immersive experiences for first-person sports gaming; and PrometheanAI, which uses natural language prompts to develop tools for “virtual world creation.”